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Tribal-State Forums

Title: Tribal Court Handbook for the 26 Federally Recognized Tribes in Washington State
Parties: Washington State Forum to Seek Solutions to Jurisdictional Conflicts Between Tribal and State Courts
Date enacted/published: 1992


In 1988, the Coordinating Council of the Association of State Supreme Court Chief Justices initiated a project to identify and resolve jurisdictional conflicts between tribal and state courts.

In 1990, the Civil Jurisdiction in Indian Country Project created demonstration forums in three states. These forums designed action agendas to address disputed jurisdiction problems, including plans for developing educational programs, informal meetings and working agreements, cross-visitations, exchanges of legal materials, agreements between tribal governments and state executive agencies, state legislation and other approaches resulting from mutual understanding and communication. The forum studies are expected to provide model approaches to enhance cooperation and reduce conflict between tribal and state courts.

Washington was selected by the Coordinating Council as a forum state, along with Arizona and Oklahoma, based on diversity of tribal courts, extent of jurisdictional conflicts and a history of cooperative working relationships between tribal and state courts and governments. The Washington Forum developed this Handbook in the expectation that dissemination of information about tribal courts in Washington will improve public understanding of those courts and reduce jurisdictional conflicts.